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Review: Black Panther

Dammy Opara

Dammy is one of our writers and is a lover of all things food and entertainment.

Marvel’s ‘Black Panther’ was released on the 12 February, and so far has made $704 million at the Box Office. Directed by Ryan Coogler and produced by Kevin Feige and David J Grant, it’s an excellent superhero origin story. Marvel made a great effort to produce a central narrative around the minority rather than creating yet another film focalised from a white point of view. The one ‘token’ white character Agent Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) is included in the story but does not directly affect it, as the story follows T’challa (Chadwick Boseman) and his journey to his throne. The main characters come from the mystical land of Wakanda, a small technologically advanced hidden nation in Africa completely un-affected by colonisation and the World Wars – an African Utopia where science has improved the lives of the natives and can teach the Western World a few things. Wakanda has an unlimited amount of Vibranium, the same material used in Captain America’s star-spangled shield.

The film’s casting was inspired, all of the actors amply becoming their characters and bringing the narrative to life. Okoye (Danai Gurira) and M’Baku (Winston Duke) making the most commendable effort to fully embody Wakandan warriors, passionate and adept with weaponry and fighting skills. The villain Killmonger is a three-dimensional character with an emotional backstory which unravels as the story progresses. His character is compelling and Michael B. Jordan really becomes menacing, vengeful and malevolent, everything needed to be a convincing Marvel villain. Killmonger’s character lived up to the old African proverb “A child that has been rejected by his village will burn it down just to feel it’s warmth”. Though the characterisation was near flawless, some of the characters seemed to adopt a Quasi-African accent, and others sounded South African and Nigerian, which was a little confusing at times.

The visual backdrop presented a rich tapestry of culture and all the decadence that you would expect from a technologically advanced safe-haven in Africa. The level of detail used to create the inner-city streets of Wakanda, the Vibranium transportation system and the futuristic tech we got a peek at in Shuri’s (Leticia Wright) lab sets an example and a standard for what we can hope to see in Infinity War. ‘Black Panther’ showed us what was possible and gave a glimpse of the true and (sometimes hidden) beauty of Africa from a non-western point of view. The use of what looked like a Kenyan Safari as an ancestral heaven worked especially well, showing the former kings in a timeless natural space.

The costume design was impeccable, and every detail tied in together really well. Costume designer Ruth E Carter did a brilliant job of creating clothing worthy of technologically advanced Africans, allowing it be futuristic, but still have a heavily cultural feel by adding real elements of various African cultures. The Wakandans represented different elements of Africa; such as the ritual for kingship that may have drawn inspiration from a Congolese tribe called the Azande, and the red clay braids that the Ova Himba tribeswomen of Angola and Namibia adorn their heads with.

The best way to watch ‘Black Panther’ is in a full cinema screening with Marvel fans to experience the best atmosphere, allowing the comic relief to land, the tension to build and the story arcs to be more prevalent. I went to see it at the Odeon the first week it was out and was both surprised and delighted by the queues and scores of people who had shown up and shown out for the event – some even dressing up for the occasion. I highly recommend watching before it is taking out of cinemas and make sure you stick around for the post credit scenes.

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